Institute

An Open Letter

Dear Students,

I know how you feel. I was in your seat more recently than I’m going to admit to you. There’s no gut sinking feeling like that moment when your teacher says he/she is going to pass back your tests, quizzes, essays, etc. 
 
BUT let me tell you something. The only thing I’ve felt in life that compares to that uneasy combination of hope and fear, is the feeling when you’re a teacher who is about start grading an assignment. 
 
When you fail a test, we (because now I’m included in the “we” that is we teachers), we go into the bathroom and cry because we feel like we failed you. 
 
At the end of every lesson I teach, I give my students an “exit ticket” to assess how well they understood the material. The final question on this 4-5 question quiz is the aligned question- meaning the one question that perfectly matches (or, ahem, is aligned to) the objective and was the ONE problem they were supposed to be able to solve at the end of your 55-minute lesson. 
 
Yesterday, only four of my 20+ students answered the aligned question correctly. The first thing I said to my CMA (corps member advisor) when he asked how my lesson went was, “I ruined my kids.” Not my kids are dumb, or my kids failed, or anything demeaning towards the students. I feel like I failed. WE, we your teachers, we take on the responsibility. You’re not stupid- I didn’t teach you how to solve the problem well! It’s my fault! Not yours! 
 
Therefore, my darling students, please know that I hate your failing grades even more than you hate them. I’m not trying to fail you! I promise!
 
All my love, 
Teacher 
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